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Western Press Review: Albright at the Crux

  • Don Hill



Prague, 21 February 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Western commentary continues to scrutinize Madeleine Albright's travels on behalf of an enlarged NATO. The U.S. secretary of state is in Moscow today.



SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: United States calls the tune

Writing yesterday in the Suddeutsche Zeitung, commentator Josef Joffe compared the diplomatic efforts of Germany's Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel unfavorably to those of Albright. He said: "When it comes to high level politics the United States still is calling the tune, as the issue of NATO expansion shows. As (Kinkel) was tarrying in Moscow (Tuesday) trying to break down Russian opposition with all sorts of niceties, his American colleague, (Albright), was setting the pace in Brussels. And with classic textbook diplomacy at that."

Joffe wrote: "In her first maneuver, the iron Albright politely warned the Russians against any illusion that they could put off NATO expansion for long." He continued: "In her second step, (she) offered the Russians a joint NATO-Russia military unit as well as a joint council." Joffe concluded: "It is a pity that Bonn appeared to know nothing of this initiative, while our man was camping out in Moscow. For the same iron rule applies to the iron Albright; the expansion of NATO can only be carried through by Bonn and Washington together."

LOS ANGELES TIMES: NATO expansion will happen

Tyler Marshall, writing from London yesterday in a news analysis in the Los Angeles Times, warned that Albright's circuit of European capitals so far has been mere prologue. Marshall said: "On the first five stops of her round-the-world trip, (Albright) has made one thing clearer than ever before: Regardless of whether the Russians like it, NATO's Eastward expansion will happen and it will happen soon. In Rome; Bonn, Germany; Paris; Brussels, Belgium; and London, she has steadied -- at least for now -- any wobbling on that issue by the United States' major European allies and provided a morale-boosting pep talk to Alliance foreign ministers who met with her in Brussels Tuesday. Now comes the hard part, a visit to Moscow, a stop likely to show how much real substance is behind her diplomatically stylish maneuvers."

BOSTON GLOBE: Chilly blast of Kremlin protest

In today's issue of The Boston Globe, David Filipov writes in an analysis (FF22): "(Albright) arrived in Moscow to a chilly blast of Kremlin protest (yesterday) as senior Russian officials made it clear that reducing their opposition to NATO's Eastward march will be no easy task." Filipov says: "Albright, who is due to meet with President Boris N. Yeltsin (today), hopes to persuade Kremlin leaders that expanding NATO (to the East) over the next two years would improve stability in Europe." He writes: "But even before Albright touched down in the Russian capital, Yeltsin and (Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny) Primakov let it be known that she had little hope of changing their minds."

WASHINGTON POST: Far short of Moscow's minimum demands

Michael Dobbs and David Hoffman jointly write from Moscow in an analysis in today's Washington Post: "Western proposals for a special relationship between Russia and NATO, as outlined by Albright to (Primakov), still fall well short of Moscow's minimum demands. Nevertheless, the process of diplomatic haggling clearly has gotten underway. It remains to be seen whether the two sides will succeed in closing the gap by July, when NATO is due to announce a formal list of candidates for membership at a summit meeting in Madrid."

LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH: Firm support for Britain

An analysis in The London Daily Telegraph (F804) today by political editor George Jones and diplomatic editor Christopher Lockwood finds firm support from the British Government for the United States' NATO stance. But, the writers argue, the Anglo-American press is not so sure. They write: "In the last two weeks, a number of newspaper and magazine articles in Britain and America have questioned the wisdom of extending NATO membership to former members of the Warsaw Pact, such as Poland, Hungary and Ukraine. These have portrayed the move as a throwback to Cold War thinking which might, by threatening Russia, actually increase tensions in Eastern Europe. But," Jones and Lockwood emphasize, the British "government agrees with the Clinton Administration that the fears are exaggerated, sometimes deliberately, by a Russia that is determined to exact the maximum concessions from NATO as its price for acquiescence."

China



The death Wednesday of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping also continues to attract Western commentary. An editorial in the current issue (February 22) of the British weekly The Economist and a Washington Post column today by Jim Hoagland contend that Deng was too complex a figure to be summed up by either uncritical praise or hypercritical blame.

ECONOMIST: History can be fickle

The Economist says: "History can be a fickle and merciless judge. The view it will take of (Deng) will depend on just when that view is being taken. In five years' time, it could well be harsh, and justly so. But in 15 years, Mr. Deng may be seen as one of the greatest political leaders of the 20th Century."

The magazine continues: "For the time being, all China's leaders pay lip service to reform. But China is seething with jealousies and ambitions unleashed by Mr. Deng. The great economic strength of democracy, that people can depend on the rule of law and the maintenance of their property rights, is entirely absent. In such a climate, history would be right to reserve its judgment."

WASHINGTON POST: Deng's unsaintly nature

In the Washington Post, Hoagland writes: "Not one critical word about Deng Xiaoping came from President Clinton or his acolytes. If the public statements of President Clinton and his senior aides count, Deng Xiaoping is sprouting wings about now, a prime candidate for beatification in the church of world politicians." The columnist says: "The refusal of the Clinton administration to face up to the good, the bad and the ugly in Deng's history reveals a troubling mind-set on foreign policy." He asks: "What is Clinton afraid of when it comes to dealing with China, and with other unsavory regimes he soft-soaps?"

Hoagland continues: "In China, the ingratiating approach also benefits the commercial interests of important Clinton supporters. But I don't believe the incipient beatification of Deng is primarily a matter of money. It is primarily a matter of mind-set." He concludes: "(A) key point that one-dimensional posthumous portrayals miss (is that), like Boris Yeltsin, Deng turned on his ideology and his own past only after he was humiliated and purged by the system he helped create. Deng kept what was useful to him in the system --brute force and political repression. To ignore that is to ignore reality and to diminish Deng's all too human, unsaintlike nature."
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